Monday, September 10, 2007

Conflict and Messages

A grim anniversary is upon us, and I'm in New York. I've been shuttling back and forth between here and DC this month and will continue to do so for some time. I wouldn't have it any other way. There's talk of surges and draw downs, and on the whole I'm cautiously optimistic. But think of the missed opportunities. Compare the two messages below that America received from Afghanistan in 1998, and you can't help thinking that if we had listened then, we might not be marking such a dreadful anniversary today

Message 1:
Afghans want to regain their right to self-determination through a democratic or traditional mechanism acceptable to our people. No one group, faction or individual has the right to dictate or impose its will by force or proxy on others. But first, the obstacles have to be overcome, the war has to end, just peace established and a transitional administration set up to move us toward a representative government.

We are willing to move toward this noble goal. We consider this as part of our duty to defend humanity against the scourge of intolerance, violence and fanaticism. But the international community and the democracies of the world should not waste any valuable time, and instead play their critical role to assist in any way possible the valiant people of Afghanistan overcome the obstacles that exist on the path to freedom, peace, stability and prosperity. [link]

Message 2:
The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies -- civilians and military -- is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy mosque [Mecca] from their grip, and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim. This is in accordance with the words of Almighty God, "and fight the pagans all together as they fight you all together," and "fight them until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in God." [link]

One is Massoud, the other is Bin Laden. Unfortunately, both messages fell on deaf ears.